Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Economics and anthropology are often seen as extremes along the social science continuum, and the methodological differences between them have rendered interdisciplinary work especially challenging. Our goal in this chapter is not to ‘resolve’ these methodological divides, but to understand what is important to each discipline, and see the divides in the light of that understanding. There are some foundational dichotomies that broadly divide mainstream economists from mainstream social and cultural anthropologists, and in this chapter we explore the role of these dichotomies. There have always been some economists and anthropologists who have engaged constructively with the work of the other group. Sahlins argued that the marginalist principles of modern economics were inadequate to explain the gift- and network-based economies of older societies (Sahlins, 1972 ). Geertz (1978) showed that the intense bargaining and client cultivation of markets in Morocco were the result of poorly distributed information and noisy communication networks. Sen placed freedom and individual dignity at the core of his welfare economics (Sen, 1999). Appadurai has engaged in a series of dialogues between his ‘enfranchisement’ and Sen’s ‘entitlements’, his ‘capacities’ and Sen’s ‘capabilities’ (Appadurai, 2004). Douglas introduced the framework of cultural theory into traditionally economic concepts such as risk and consumption (Douglas, 1992; Douglas and Isherwood, 1996).
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